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VOL. 112 | NO. 4 | Thursday, January 8, 1998

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By LAURIE JOHNSON The Med starts ICU renovations By LAURIE JOHNSON The Daily News The Regional Medical Center of Memphis has started renovations to its fourth-floor intensive care complex. The project, which will reconfigure four individual intensive care units into one 30,000-square-foot facility, is part of the hospitals master plan to increase efficiency and broaden its customer base, hospital officials said. "The Med is going through some radical changes in trying to become more efficient and proficient with less," said Rick Smith, vice president of operations for The Med. "So, rather than having four individual units, each taking up a lot of staff, utilities and equipment, we are creating one large, circular, state-of-the-art unit." The unit will house the combined resources of The Meds medicine surgery, neurosurgery, post-trauma and cardiac ICUs. It will accommodate 24 patients. The layout will be such that a nurse on one side, who traditionally has been isolated from other ICUs, will be more mobile and able to answer the calls of a patient in another ICU, Smith said. "This will allow us to use our staff more efficiently, and it will also help us improve our staff cross-training." Other improvements to the fourth floor will include larger waiting rooms and private conference rooms. "While we are doing things to increase our efficiency and proficiency, as far as patient care is concerned, we are also putting forth a good effort to make things more physician-friendly," Smith said. "The doctors will have their own reporting and conference rooms, and we are installing new technology that will allow them to record and dictate on the spot," he said. "Turnaround times for lab and radiology will also be a lot quicker." Wooldridge Construction Co. of Memphis is the general contractor for the project, which is expected to be completed by March 1. Jim Evans of the Memphis architecture firm Nathan, Evans, Foster Coleman & Taylor designed the new fourth-floor layout. The Med is investing about $700,000 in the renovation project. Smith said combining the fourth-floor ICUs is one of the first steps the publicly administered hospital is taking toward changing its image from that of a "safety-net" medical center to that of a hospital of choice for local patients and physicians. "Our mission is a lot different from that of a private, for-profit hospital, Smith said. "We are seen as a safety net hospital for the community, which means that our mission is to take care of all for the good of all. "But, at the same time, we have to realize that in order to survive for this community, we must become more business-oriented, modeling our operations similar to those of for-profit hospitals." Smith said hospital officials are trying to provide an environment for patients that is more like a hotel than a hospital a concept he calls a "hospitel." "There is only one main difference between hotels and hospitals in a hotel, people choose to be there. In a hospital, people have to be there. "What we want to do is give those people who have to be here a better environment," Smith said. The goal of The Meds new strategy also is to attract more private physicians and private-paying patients, he said. "We are going after a new breed that I dont think we ever have put a big emphasis on before," he said. Smith said The Med soon will undertake other projects to achieve this goal, including building a new womens health center. "This is something we are planning to do, and it is now in the design phase," Smith said. "Were just trying to see exactly where we stand and what we are going to do."

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